How to Clean Your Car for Coronavirus
April 27, 2020:
At Sullivan Tire & Auto Service, we fully understand the concerns our customers have about exposure to COVID-19, or the coronavirus. In order to prevent the spread of viruses, especially the novel coronavirus, many people have been wearing gloves, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting items they purchase when they run errands. What you may forget, though, is the importance of keeping your vehicle clean and disinfected. When you purchase groceries or other items and load them into your vehicle, they're touching the interior of your car. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that the coronavirus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. That means that you should be sanitizing the interior of your car to kill any germs it may have collected on your last visit to the grocery store or pharmacy.
How Long Does the Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces?
When disinfecting your car, remember that its interior includes a variety of different surfaces. If you're planning to clean the plastic on your dash, you'll need a different disinfectant than what you might use on your leather seats, for example. According to the Institutes of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 is stable for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic or stainless steel. Another study published by the Journal of Hospital Infection suggests that similar viruses can live on "inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days."
What's the Best Way to Sanitize My Car's Interior?
If you're planning to sanitize your car's interior, start by washing your hands. If you have enough supplies, wear a pair of disposable gloves. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work well for sanitizing your vehicle. Just be sure to read the product's label to make sure it's safe for the surface you're planning to use it on. Be sure to consult your owner's manual as well if you're unsure of what types of cleaner to use. It's also a good idea to keep a small pack of disinfectant wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your vehicle if you have enough. That way you never forget to sanitize after an outing.
How to Disinfect Surfaces in My Car
The most important areas of your vehicle to keep clean are the dashboard and the steering wheel. Bacteria tends to collect in these spots as air is cycled throughout the vehicle. To clean your dash, simply use soap and water. You can use dish soap or another mild household soap. Dampen the surface and then scrub lightly for 20-30 seconds. Rinse with water. It's important to wipe your dash and steering wheel down with your preferred disinfectant frequently, too, as an extra precaution. Other high-touch places within your car that you should sanitize include:
- Interior Door Handles
- Door Buttons
- Keys and Key Fob
- Steering Wheel
- Inside Door Buttons
- Seat Belts
- Gear Shifters
- Buttons on the Dash
- Buttons for Lights
- Climate Controls
- Radio Buttons
- Rearview Mirror
- Car Seats
- Floor Mats
- Center Console & Cupholders
- Buttons for Windshield Wipers
- Glove Compartment
Do I Need to Disinfect My Car's Exterior?
While germs have a lower chance of survival on your vehicle's exterior thanks to the sun and other weather elements, you should still disinfect any areas that are touched frequently. Wipe down the door handles and handle buttons while you're cleaning your car. Don't forget to wipe down the gas cap after fueling up, too.
Are There Disinfectants I Should Avoid Using in My Car?
If you want to avoid damaging your vehicle's interior surfaces, don't use bleach or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. These can damage the vinyl and plastics in your cabin. You should also avoid any ammonia-based cleaning products used to clean glass, as they can break down the vinyl on the dashboard. Heat and light may then cause your dashboard to become sticky. Check out your car's owner's manual for additional guidance and for specific products.
How to Clean Leather Seats in My Car
If you're planning to sanitize the leather seats in your car, be sure to do a spot test on a hidden area to be sure the product works on your car's specific seats. Any leather cleaner should work well, but if you don't have one on hand, you can make your own! Mix two parts white vinegar with one part water to create your own disinfecting solution. No matter which product you choose, apply it with a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the leather. If you have one on hand, apply a leather conditioner after sanitizing your car seats.